So...We Finally managed to hit the road after a stressful final week of last minute to do's. I'm writing this now in Brasov, Romania after riding the legendary Transfagarason road today. More on that later...
Leaving the UK was not really the enjoyable experience I originally hoped for. Although the bike was pretty much good to go, working on it until the very last minute meant that I hadn't left myself any time to really consider what I was going to pack. Inevitably, I ended up shoving all sorts in at the last minute making the load on the back a ridiculous size. I felt more like I was mounting a horse not a dirt bike. We're using Wolfman soft luggage on the sides with a lifeventure dry bag on the top.Nevertheless, we set sail on the Dover to Calais ferry at which point we both realised there really was no turning back now.
We made it as far as Arras, France before getting our head down for the night. The roads were spot on. It was as if they had been designed with a sports bike in mind. We immediately wanted more power but reminded ourselves of the reason for choosing the Drz. We were and still are confident it will come in to it's own the further east we make it. We both already knew that we will be back in the Alps region on bigger bikes at some point in the near future so for now, the main focus was to get in the thick of it all in Russia and Mongolia. For that reason we powered on through the next day stopping for the night in Stuttgart before setting up camp in Prague. From Prague, we continued through to Bratislava and found a campsite just outside of the city. The campsite wasn't yet open for the season so there was no other guests or running water but the hotel next door was hosting a Miss Slovakia beauty contest so we could hardly complain.
It was here where we both decided we were sick of carrying so much luggage. There and then we both had a massive de-bulk session. I was impressed with just how ruthless we both were. Pretty much everything went other than a few pairs of boxers, socks and a couple of t-shirts. We also revisited the spares we were carrying and worked out what we could lose and what we could strap to the bike so we didn't need to cart it in and out of the tent or hostels each night and morning. In the Wolfman sides we have clothes and spares, on the top we have tents and cooking gear only. The tools have been strategically placed throughout the bikes and mainly in a lockable tool kit on the back of one bike and the big chain lock on other bike. The weight seems to be fairly distributed between the two bikes. I'm also now happy with the amount of weight we are carrying and no doubt the sub-frame is in for a better chance of survival. The following morning the bike felt like a completely different ride. It was a huge relief.
We took a quick detour to Vienna then on to Budapest and to Cluj Napoca, Romania. Yesterday we pushed on to here, Brasov.
I know there is already a million and one ride reports on this part of Europe so I'm conscious I shouldn't bore you with ride reports just yet until we hit the slightly more extreme areas but today was a special day that I think should be documented.
The hospitable offers we have received from people on the riding forums have been amazing. Today was the perfect example of this. Today we rode with a guy called Mike here in Brasov. As he lives here he knows the area and the Transfagarason road like the back of his hand. He saw a post I had put up on Thumper Talk and being a DRz owner himself immediately contacted me to see if we would be passing through Romania.
We met this morning and headed out for a days ride. It's a fairly long straight boring ride from Brasov to the beginning of the Transfagarason but definitely well worth it. Upon reaching the bottom of the road, we started climbing but quickly hit a concrete blockade preventing traffic from going any further. Mike explained that due to snow fall, the road does not open until later next month. I was questioning whether it was worth us riding all the way out there but when I asked him if we could go any further he responded with "Do you see any snow here?"
He just snuck through the barrier and popped a big wheelie on the other side. We followed, but conscious of damaging the bikes, without the big wheelie. This of course didn't have anything to do with our wheeling capability. :-)
We climbed and climbed, hairpin after hairpin and as the road was fully closed there was not a car in sight. There had been multiple landslides over the winter which were yet to be cleared but avoiding them didn't seem like too much of an issue for Romanian Mike so we just stuck with him. The views were incredible and it was excellent to get to grips with the bikes on such a road. We were eventually prevented from going any further as there was thick snow covering the entire road.
Mike had a little chuckle everytime we discussed the rest of our route around the world. When we questioned if he would ever want to do it, his reply was "On a DRz? ha, no chance."
He later took us on some dirt trails. The bike felt right at home. It will be interesting to see how the bike holds up.
For me, Romania has been a real highlight and I'm already excited about riding through the rest of Transylvania before heading into Ukraine. A massive thanks to Mike. I'm sure he would be happy to show anyone else visiting this area around so contact me if you want to track him down.
Anyone ridden the Ukraine before? Ultimately we need to head in the direction of Moscow so if anybody knows any good routes that we should take then that would be massively appreciated.
All in all, the trip is going exactly as we hoped and the bikes feel superb. Choosing road tyres has been the best call yet. The bikes are handling so well on the good surfaces on Europe but we are looking forward to donning the knobblies in Moscow and finally getting the bikes on the dirt. We have a load of video footage which we will be editing and posting up soon.
Me and Mike on his DRz SM. What a legend!!